Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Best Advent Ideas

Happy Holidays! Advent, the holy season we celebrate in the weeks before Christmas in prepration for the birth of Christ is almost over. We attended our first advent worship service last night. Max sang in the annual Children's Christmas Pageant at our church. Both boys had been practicing their songs at home almost every day. He looked so cute, standing at the front of church with his friends and peers, singing songs in his bright red Christmas vest. Mitchell looked so cute, too, in his matching outfit, but he decided not to join his classmates at the altar this year. The loud music and hundreds of faces, most of them unfamiliar, in the rows and rows of pews were sensations that he was not ready to experience. As one Sunday School teacher reassuringly reminded me, "Someday you won't be able to get him to come and sit on your lap." My favorite part of the evening was watching the other littlest ones grab their jingle bells and ring them proudly all through Away in a Manager, as their teachers and parents silently implored them to set the bells down and save them for the next song.

This year, we are adding a special touch to Advent with two inexpensive candy-filled Advent calendars. We bought them at Trader Joe's for our boys and our nieces. Each day of December is represented with a punch-out door, and inside each door is a holiday-shaped chocolate.

In previous years, we have also used a wooden heirloom advent calendar, a gift for Max from his grandma and grandpa in California, with 24 doors containing a miniature wooden ornament to decorate on the attached wooden tree. Max also has a talking Christmas tree to help him count down the days until Christmas. I ordered it from Avon when he was a baby. When you turn on the toy, a talking snowman says grandly, "Each day, place an ornament on the tree, and you will know how many days there are left until Christmas." And, magically, the snowman would tell us today, "There are only *five* more days until Christmas is here."

There are other advent traditions I would like to try with my family. Here are some of my favorite possibilities that you might like to try for next year. Purchase supplies at after-Christmas clearance sales to save money and time next year. One idea, gathered from an old edition of Family Fun magazine, suggests wrapping up 25 Christmas books -- old or new -- in Christmas paper, and opening and reading one story each day.

Two years ago, I purchased beautiful red stain cord and several types of Christmas plaid fabric, with the good intentions of sewing an advent garland of tiny Christmas mittens. Cut out 25 mittens (actually 50 pieces) from your choice of fabric, sew, whipstitch, or glue the sides together, and attach them to the satin cord with yarn, ribbon, or clothespins. Then fill each mitten with a coin, chocolate, trinket, or Bible verse, for each day of December until Christmas.

I finished our Christmas card yesterday, and this weekend I will print the cards and envelopes. Last year we gave over one hundred cards to family and friends. Check your mailboxes!

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